Cardano low fee stake pools and Voltaire liquid democracy

Hi everyone,

Today’s low fee stake pools need to be analyzed in the lens of whether or not they can complicate future Cardano projects. In an attempt to democratize the staking experience, we need to analyze how closely stake and voting will interact in the years to come.



Hello Philippe

I fail to understand what does the fees/low fees have to do with the voting process.
And why would that bring whales into the voting system.
Can you shed a light on that for me please?

And btw, very interesting thoughts. The future is now!

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Hi @philpa, trying to follow your thought process.

I do not think anyone should be able to delegate there vote to an operator of a pool as this would give an unfair advantage.

If the person is not interested in what’s going on in the eco system then there vote should be classed as abstaining.

Am I correct that this is your concern as it is mine too if there is a direct correlation between the two systems.

Low fees may attract large amounts of stake. If staking integrates with voting, low fee pools may have a majority of the voting power.

Yes, this is my concern. I have no insight as to how closely these systems will interact, but they may exist within the same UI pages.

Ok, understood.

So the risk is having elements not interested in the project success, but the undermine of it through the voting system.

Is my assertion correct?

If the operators also have an option to vote based on their delegated stake, there may be an issue.

@philpa, I’ve been hunting round and I have found only a couple of official postings in regards to voltaire and project catalyst, have you been able to locate any rss on this?

Is there a white paper?

I haven’t been able to find any recent documentation.

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I think staking and voting should be two separate endeavours. I may agree with the technical prowess of a certain pool owner, but not with their “political” views.

So, in my opinion, creating the figure of the voting representatives would avoid that problem you refer to. I may delegate my stake to a pool, and delegate my vote to a representative for certain affairs, while I may choose to vote myself singularly on specific issues.

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Thanks Philpa for touching on this important topic. I have been discussing it in some of the telegram channels as well. Currently watching how everything plays out and if due to social contract we will stay clear of any dangers but I do not like it if there where possibilities in the system for malicious actors to do damage. (not saying absolutely there is just saying this is a very important discussion).


Could have a direct correlation with Prisim and voltaire in that;

1 Person >> 1 ADA >> 1 Vote

Obviously no delegation of vote to any other holder or pool operator.

Personally I do not want to see an old system to be brought into a new system as what’s the point, we would have an issue of folk being able to buy the election of whatever it may happen to be.

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TLDR; Liquid democracy >= 1 person 1 vote. (You can always vote, but you can choose to delegate)

The point of liquid democracy is to be able to delegate for general votes that are not of so much interest for you, but to be able to vote yourself when you have a very strong opinion on the subject.

That way, I can delegate my vote generally to someone that I think shares my views and votes consistently in the same way that I would, and remain in control when I want to make a 100% sure that a certain vote goes in the direction that I want.

And on the other side, as an organisation, you don’t have so many votes that have very low participation because people have a life and don’t have the time to be researching the details of every aspect of each voting.


Great point, I 100% agree with your viewpoint and concern here. I had the same concern on a couple of points.

  1. If the rewards diminish for a single pool to avoid one player being a mega pool, then what stops them from simply spinning up a hundred pools with a large bit of capital to gain outsized influence on the network? Nothing at present stops anyone from doing this and perhaps this is OK? There is a means of attack by a thousand pools, though their ability to subvert or deny other smaller pool operators is limited. Still at a certain size a mega-multi-pool operator does start to crowd others out and potentially drive down rewards.

  2. More directly to your point I think we need a representative delegate structure for governance and separate from staking. If every single person who owns ada is expected to vote, then it would be rare to ever get more than 1% of people voting on anything. The below solution would only partially solve this as not everyone would bother delegating their vote or staking their ada, but it would improve overall participation. Will this democracy have a ‘quorum concept’…if so, then a true majority vs a tiny plurality of the vote would be very hard to achieve and could grind progress to a halt if governance demands we have 50%+ of all ada holders to win a vote. I’d argue many non-voters are not ‘not voting’ on purpose, but are simply unaware of their voting rights or how to execute them, though many folks will not care about governance or ever delegate their holding’s voting rights.

I think a solution would be to have ‘Delegate Pools’ for voting similar to ‘staking pools’ to entirely split governance from staking processes. These could be very simple websites or other means of hosting information with links/information in the wallets similar to the staking pools page (I think the treasury could fund a common governance site for all potential delegates/representatives to post) then their voting records would be fully transparent and visible to avoid ‘faithless electors’ who say one thing and do another. Or at least give us a chance to see if they use our votes in ways we don’t agree with or are inconsistent with how they said they would vote.

This site can function both as the ‘parliament’ of cardano where the governance, bill proposal, and voting schedule is run - but also as the delegate pool mechanism to allow for this.

Also…what about currency vs governance. When I buy something from you and give you my ada which has governance delegated…does my delegation continue? Does my delegation get removed each time ada is transferred? In this way the transfer of ada should probably strip governance delegation…obviously transferring and staking do not have this issue because in order to transfer, one must first unstake their ada. By splitting governance and voting rights away from staking or holding at the time of a vote for individuals…we create an extra problem, but it can be solved by stripping governance delegation on any transferred ada.

Representatives can give a short speech and some text on their values (translated into many languages by the Cardano delegate site). and then you can select someone you like to delegate your vote to…you can vote yourself directly if you like…or you can just ignore the governance aspects all together. This is great for democracy as we do not need to hold ‘elections’ at set intervals, I can simply change my delegation to someone else on the spot if I want to.

  1. The risk of tying staking and governance rights together is real. I’d say the number 1 risk is that if a cabal of greedy pool operators become mega-multi-pool operators and can influence or win any vote they want. The number one conflict and possible action they’d take which is ‘not good for Cardano’ would be to increase the fees. They are stake operators and they have done it to make money, why not create a vote on and then pass a vote with their overwhelming power as the largest set of stake pool operators to increase the fees so they get richer. The fees should be as low as possible to both make the ecosystem work by paying people a fair amount to operate pools, but we also need low enough fees for defi to be possible and cheap fees to run the entire ecosystem and for future concerns like being a real world everyday currency and to bank the bankless etc.

A risk exists if stake pool operators de facto gain governance delegation. I think their interests to make money are potentially in conflict with the rest of the Cardano ecosystem and the broader user base.

Thanks again for raising this point!

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